Considering our economically divergent and conspiratorial times, there isn’t much future shock going on in indie rock these days. Most new acts who aim to mix ’80s dark wave shivers with ’90s garage-punk scrunch into something millenials could get all hot’n’bothered about can’t seem to transcend their mileau’s knack for just drifting along in thrall to consumerist gadgets or in beaten down surrender to said gadgets’ top-floor corporate creators. So it’s encouraging when a band can at least imply a little sonic fist-shake at the gigabyte ball rolling over our consciousness, even if, as is the case it seems with this San Franciscan trio, it’s basically vague de rigueur dissing of the moneyed dweebs deflating all the cool shit in their town (i.e. the rent’s too damn high).
POW! (again, what’s with all the all-caps in band names?!) churn along on some nasty, metronomic garage skizz like three teen Robocops smoking cigs instead of bad guys. Analog synths lock wires with fuzzy guitar on warped rhythms with near-nervous girl/guy vox talking hacking mainframes, battles, cyber attacks, etc. The robotic riffs can start to pile up and plod like that aforementioned gigabyte ball, but a snotty, no nonsense lead solo usually saves the day, like in the Fall-y @ The Station.
The sound runs somewhere in line with that Denton, TX, gaggle (Mind Spiders, Marked Men, High Tension Wires), but being from SF, POW! is more spacey-woozy. Like the cold, swirly synths of Sugi Walks that starts a mid-album polar vortex with no guitars and a tin-pan percussion waddle that seems dragged in from some tiki novelty tune circa 1961; and as it fades out, leaves you with that pit-in-your-gut feeling that you’re tumbling out into space forever. But Switchboard Scientist and then 66 grab your spacesuit just in time as the synths get a little scruffier and the guitar starts fighting its way back in. And that’s kind of how it goes the rest of the way. It’s classic “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” kevetching that’s informed most brainy punk sizzle since Devo.
Most of the tunes fade out, implying that either the struggle against our trust-funded masters will continue on, or POW! just haven’t figured out how to finish writing songs yet. But hey, it’s a debut, so there’s time for all that… or is there?